Martin Carr reviews the fourth episode of The Boys season 2…
Does anyone else get a When Harry Met Sally vibe? Before you spit you’re collective dummies out look beyond the public demonstrations, Taxi Driver references and pointed diversity discussions and think. Those little straight to camera vignettes might seem like nothing at first glance, but given context they hint at rom com intentions. Granted, to get there you might have to burrow through fifty feet of bruised male ego, caged machismo and a smattering of Messiah complex but look closer.
Stormfront and Homelander are the wannabe couple from hell combining female empowerment alongside a preening patriarchy. That the former cloaks her racism while the latter his serious mummy issues only makes things more interesting. However beyond this The Boys still belongs to Homelander and his mass of contradictory impulses. Stormfront might be gathering public support, masking her real intentions and allaying any fears but he still rules the roost. Self-obsessed, emotionally unbalanced and in possession of lethal abilities, Homelander is little more than a weaponised man child.
On the other side sits Billy Butcher equally damaged, compulsively driven and defined by a paper thin masculinity which masks deeper issues. His need for revenge has gone beyond Homelander to encompass anyone in possession of power, either super or otherwise. Vought is the bloated corporate fiction which has robbed him of a normal life, any semblance of happiness and his ability to exist in contemporary society. Although some may say otherwise Homelander and Butcher are two sides of the same coin. One seeking validation from a wider public the other complicity and reassurance from others by feinting indifference.
Hughie and Annie are the only potentially normal pairing in this melting pot of dysfunction, as they bond over music and try to salvage some sense of sanity amongst the mayhem. Mother’s Milk and Frenchie might be militant and drug dependent respectively, but even they share a level of co-dependency. At the outset it was suggested that The Boys is really rom-com material cloaked in more contentious clothing and that theory still stands.
Take out the toxic need for validation, pre-occupation with social masks and blatant sideswipes at corporate profiteering and it is there. Personally for old romantics like me this beats any Rob Reiner effort hands down. Let’s be honest, who wouldn’t rather have an R rated Watchmen homage peppered with rom-com clichés, in place of a rose-tinted Woody Allen monologue extoling the virtue of eggs.